Euro 2004 - our perspective only
For those of you eagerly waiting for our verdict on the final coverage straight after tonight's game... come back in the next couple of days, when we'll have looked in our usual detail at both sides' live coverage. Before then, from our perspective, what have and haven't we enjoyed about this tournament? Our five highlights of the coverage of Euro 2004:
* BBC INTERACTIVE ANALYSIS CHANNEL : Our big regret is we didn't see more of this, but by what we've heard it appears we've missed some kind of genius in Croft and Claridge's double act (no disrespect to David Oates, but he's more concerned with minor details like commentating on the game). Dead-on tactical analysis, texter abuse and wild tangents alike abounded. Give them a proper stage.
* JON CHAMPION and...
* JIM BEGLIN : Probably the two most likely to make the break to the Beeb if anyone for next season made a great double act, and given what's ahead of them they proved why the third choice team should have been used more all along.
* GARETH SOUTHGATE : Typical. ITV find a pundit who speaks sense and has a proper insight into tactics, and they won't be able to use him next season because he'll be playing. Marks off for the stilted way he read the researcher's scribbled facts over the England team graphics, marks on for showing Townsend up.
* IAN WRIGHT : Leavening the tone, that's what we needed? Previously a man who only talked in blind patriotism terms, possibly for effect, but while his contributions to the Totti spitting debate were rarely in sync with his first hand knowledge we've found ourselves warming to him. Plus we suspect there's a good an anti-Hansen positive spinner on how goals and top strikers come about lying just dormant under the pub everyman persona.
And five lowlights:
* SIR BOBBY ROBSON : starting with loads of ITV, we know. You can read us like a book, can't you? This seemed a bad idea from the moment it was announced, and so it proved as Sir Bobby contributed to decent amounts of bad air by just not talking when Clive left a gap for him, and when he did talk it was in a very one-track way, like how he went on for a good ten minutes about Gary Neville needing to press further forward irrespective of what was happening in the interim. Two live games and one studio appearance? Yeah, worth bringing him out, wasn't it?
* ROBBIE EARLE : See, had it been Robbie Earle's Tactics Truck more people would have noticed how poor he is. This was his apogee, as seemingly kept out of the travelling team to Portugal he was left to state the obvious while the producers tried their hardest to make him out as some sort of tactical genius in London. A word too for the men at the games, as they seemed to be playing to their weaknesses almost deliberately - Andy Townsend saying nothing of further interest, self-indulgent laughter, Des hardly bothered.
* PETER DRURY : It's a good job they've got Champion working for them as, with Guy Mowbray almost sidelined, their commentators have been awful. Tyldesley's open bias and virtually missing the importance of Greece's semi-final goal is one thing, but Drury's plummeting reputation continued its downward curve with a set of too clever-clever one-liners, overzealous screaming and tendency to stick to a line once he's found it to its illogical conclusion. Thank god Thierry Henry had a poor tournament.
* PETER REID : Let's be frank, Reid's best performances for the Beeb in 2002 came when he was either genuinely or seemingly pissed. Kept away from the mini-bar in Portugal he was exposed as someone who could hardly string a sentence or opinion together. We're not among those who say 'ah, what's he to tell us how to play the game when he can't manage?', but managing yourself is quite another thing.
* JAMIE REDKNAPP : Really, why? Redknapp only seems to get BBC work for major tournaments, wherein he imparts nothing that betrays extra knowledge of the game and doesn't help his cause by having the same accent as Andy Townsend. Plus when we saw him once he was wearing shades at dusk, surely the mark of the overexerted.